The Foreign Office's sensible, empowering social media policy

The Foreign Office’s sensible, empowering social media policy

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Many organisations still feel that one of the biggest threats to them from social media is what staff, customers or others may say on it. it isn’t. The biggest threat is really their not having a clear strategy for how they use social media (if they do) and what staff are and aren’t allowed to do. and the beat such policies tend to be more empowering than restricting.

One of the best examples of a pragmatic, empowering social media policy that I’ve seen was recently released by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The policy is designed as much to encourage and enable staff to engage as it is to protect the FCO itself. And this is something many brands can learn from.

The guidelines themselves are clear and easy to understand (something too many are not) and there are three main things organisations can learn from them:

  1. They recognise the value of social media: Any organisation that benefits from people, relationships or knowledge can gain hugely by encouraging staff to engage in social media. Be that for learning, finding and building relationships with peers or for adding to discussions and debates. The FCO is clear that social tools can be hugely beneficial to their aims and that it encourages staff to embrace them.
  2. They understand that social is not always about talking: One of the biggest barriers for many people with social media is that they don’t personally want to talk or engage on channels. Not everybody does not should they. In encouraging staff to use social media, the FCO gives as much weight to listening and learning from discussions as it does to taking part in them. It provides advice on how to find and listen to useful discussions and says that as a minimum all staff should be benefiting in this way.
  3. They are clear about what should and shouldn’t be discussed: In any organisation there are issues that staff should not be discussing publicly.